Co-creator of “The Simpsons” Sam Simon is also a long-time philanthropist and animal activist. His charitable organization The Sam Simon Foundation works to provide vegan food to individuals and families in need, operates a mobile veterinary clinic providing free spay and neuter surgeries, and rescues dogs from shelters and trains them to assist the deaf and veterans suffering from PTSD. For his giving, he has been honored by organizations including PETA which recently named its Norfolk, VA headquarters after Simon and Sea Shepherd which now has the M/V Sam Simon among its fleet.
He even intended to head to the Southern Ocean in defense of whales with Sea Shepherd when he was diagnosed with cancer. We at Ecorazzi were saddened to hear back in March that Sam Simon was battling the illness and had been given a prognosis of just months to live.
Simon seems determined to use the all of the time he has to the fullest, and to give everything he can to the causes he loves. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he talked about what brought him to animal rights and what it means to him. “I was just an animal lover. Everything that the Sam Simon Foundation does is supposed to help dogs and people — that’s our mission. I like dogs and meeting people whose dogs we’ve saved with our free-surgery day.” He later became involved with PETA when he donated money from working with “The Drew Carey Show” on an episode that featured greyhound racing, something that Simon wanted to speak out against. He jokingly adds, “Then I started hanging around with those PETA maniacs, and it’s a slippery slope, and I just slipped all the way down to the bottom.”
“Paul Watson [of Sea Shepherd] presented the idea for the ship. Charlie MacCormack at Save the Children is great. And Ingrid [Newkirk, of PETA] — these are pillars of pure dedication who inspired me. When I was sick, I got to summon people to my hospital room. Ingrid and I got this fun idea. I started to buy these zoos and circuses in December. I just wanted to have some days where I get to see animals walk in grass for the first time. Through PETA, we rescue animals in roadside zoos and circuses. They are some of the most abused animals in the country. Freeing those animals, that’s something I’m not sure I would do if it weren’t for the cancer,” Simon adds.
Coming close to death after an operation made him realize how important it is to him to make sure his giving will continue to benefit the causes closest to him, he shared. “When I woke up in the hospital, even though I did have a will, it did become that much more important to me to set this stuff up for the future. And the Rockefeller Foundation has consultants [Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors] who have been amazing. We found fantastic trustees. It’s something that will be living after I’m gone…One thing is, I get pleasure from it. I love it. I don’t feel like it is an obligation. One of the things about animal rights, which is not the only thing that I care about in this world, is that your money can bring success. I see results. There is stuff happening, really good stuff, every week,” said Simon.
The Emmy-winner says that royalties from “The Simpsons” are what continue to allow him to do his charitable work, bringing in tens of millions of dollars annually. “When I left “The Simpsons”, no one thought that this thing was going to still be around. It’s the cumulative effect. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, 25 years later, and it’s still coming in.’”
What exactly does he want his fortune to do? Simon says that much of it has gone to The Sam Simon Foundation which will continue to expand, including providing more free spay and neuter surgeries. And in terms of his hopes for the world, he adds “I want medical experiments on animals stopped. They don’t do anything, and they don’t work. Veganism is an answer for almost every problem facing the world in terms of hunger and climate change. It helps people’s health. Meat is the biggest greenhouse gas producer. There’s also the cruelty and suffering aspect. When people do meatless Mondays, and when people adopt instead of buying a dog, that’s a PETA victory.”
Sam Simon, we think you’ve been a part of many victories, and will continue to make a difference.